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132  Anne Kelly

131  Louise Lemieux Bérubé

130  Dorothy McGuinness

129  Penny Mateer

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86  Ingrid Lincoln

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83  Maximo Laura

82  Marie Bergstedt

81  Alice Vander Vennen

80  Xia Gao

79  Leisa Rich

78  Megan Q. Bostic

77  Sayward Johnson

76  Heather Komus

75  Sheila Thompson

74  Kerstin Benier

73  Molly Grundy

72  Nathan Johns

71  Lorena Santin-Andrade

70  Lisa DiQuinzio

69  Nancy Yule

68  Jenine Shereos

67  Bovey Lee

66  Nell Burns

65  Lancelot Coar

64  Elisabetta Balasso

63  Matthew Cox

62  Yulia Brodskaya

61  Lotta Helleberg

60  Kit Vincent

59  Barbara Heller

58  Catherine Dormor

57  Joyce Seagram

56  Yael Brotman

55  David Hanauer

54  Dwayne_Wanner

53  Pat Hertzberg

52  Chris Motley

51  Mary Catherine Newcomb

50  Cybèle Young

49  Vessna Perunovich

48  Fukuko Matsubara

47  Jodi Colella

46  Anastasia Azure

45  Marjolein Dallinga

44  Libby Hague

43  Rita Dijkstra

42  Leanne Shea Rhem

41 Lizz Aston

40  Sandra Gregson

39  Kai Chan

38  Edith Meusnier

37  Lindy Pole

36  Melanie Chikofsky

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34  Emily Jan

33  Elisabeth Picard

32  Liz Pead

31  Milena Radeva

30  Rochelle Rubinstein

29  Martha Cole

28  Susan Strachan Johnson

27  Karen Maru

26  Bettina Matzkuhn

25  Valerie Knapp

24  Xiaoging Yan

23  Hilary Rice

22  Birgitta Hallberg

21  Judy Martin

20  Gordana Brelih

19  Mary Karavos

18  Rasma Noreikyte

17  Judith Tinkl

16  Joanne Young

15  Allyn Cantor

14  Pat Burns-Wendland

13  Barbara Wisnoski

12  Robert Davidovitz

11  Amy Bagshaw

10  Jesse Harrod

9  Emma Nishimura

8  June J. Jacobs

7  Dagmar Kovar

6  Ixchel Suarez

5  Cynthia Jackson

4  Lorraine Roy

3  Christine Mockett

2  Amanda McCavour

1  Ulrikka Mokdad

80 pound Gorilla in the Operating Room, NY Times. Blanket hand-cut newspaper collage, fleece,
digital print 2014, 58" x 80", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick



Stand! #8, Protest Series. Installation 52 stands/heads, Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick


Artist: Penny Mateer of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Interview 129: Penny will be exhibiting in the 2014 World of Threads Festival in Solo Shows & Installations in the Corridor Galleries at our main festival venue Queen Elizabeth Park Community & Cultural Centre in Oakville, Ontario.

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Interviews published and curated by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.




Penny's Website.


Studio shot Penny Mateer.


Tell us about your work:

My work is rooted in the feminine traditions of quilting and embroidery and is driven by my reaction to our political climate and world events. I use what is historically considered "women's work" to question political ideology in a male dominated society; this subversive element has enormous appeal. My work is conceptual and I strive to produce it in such a way as to encourage the viewer to think, and if I am successful, promote discussion. By exploring contemporary issues using patchwork I toy with the idea that a quilt connotes all that is comfortable while simultaneously raising questions about domesticity. My challenge is to find graphic, commercial fabric and then use it in unexpected ways.

Never Wear Your Stress On Your Sleeve, NY Times 3/7/2014. Blanket hand-cut newspaper collage, fleece, commercial cotton fabric, canvas, digital print and machine quilted 2014, 36" x 49" Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick


What was the motivation to move from quilting to newspaper collage?

After my father died I struggled to spend any meaningful time in the studio. I had great difficulty resuming any of the projects I was in the middle of or had planned to do. To jumpstart my creativity I decided I needed to work in a different way, using a medium that did not involve stitching and was not as labour intensive. I always begin my day with reading the newspaper; it is our touchstone to the world. In the midst of political unrest and hardship there is also possibility and wonder to be found within the pages and I am always wowed by the photojournalism. So I began to think about what I could do with a newspaper to both call attention to its fantastic images and at the same time engage myself in a new process. My solution was to make small newspaper collages and slowly I started to embrace my work again.

As I worked I began to think about the gradual shift from handheld newspapers to the digital delivery of news and how that diminishes the impact of photojournalism. Unlike reading the news on a computer screen the act of holding a newspaper forces the reader to see an image even if just a glance. A year ago I challenged myself to make a daily collage using only photos and advertising no illustrations or text from just one day's edition. The title of each collage is a headline from that day that references the visual theme. Because I make one collage per paper there is no specific intent for each, it is just my focus from the overall tone of the news that day. Using large format printing I am able to magnify the collages and confront the viewer, often with uncomfortable realities and at the same time, accentuate the impact of these photojournalists incredible images.

Loan Complaints by Homeowners Rise Once More, NY Times 2/19/2014. Blanket hand-cut newspaper collage, fleece, digital print, 2014 60" x 80", Photo: om Fitzpatrick


Have you found that your art has changed as a result of working in a different media and what are the main differences?

In some ways the more my art changes the more it remains the same.  My work is concept driven.  I have always been drawn to collage and the types of associations I can create. I love the spontaneity and the insight I gain from working freely. These daily collages have helped me to focus and learn how to develop a narrative. I think it has helped me to add more complexity to my work and not question my composition, which continues to improve. There is great value in developing a daily art practice it keeps the channels open and the juices flowing.

Collage is basically the same across media the act of cutting out an image and applying it to a background is no different using newspaper than fabric appliqué on a quilt. The main difference with this approach is there is no stitching involved which still feels foreign to me. The benefit of working with newspaper is the ability to respond to specific events right away. When I started these collages I did so to jumpstart my creativity, now it has developed into a different and faster way to express my ideas. Because they are digitally printed and not pieced I can exhibit new work as events unfold.


Pondering How Tales are Told, NY Times 4/3/2014. Blanket hand-cut newspaper collage, fleece, digital print, 2014 80" x 60", Photographer: Tom Fitzpatrick


What challenges has this brought and how have you resolved them?

The initial challenge was basic construction and materials. It took some time to find the best adhesive to hold the compositions together. I need some flexibility to reposition if needed or alter an image after placement. The more compositions I make the more I appreciate newspaper layouts and the artistry required. But my largest challenge is the Sunday paper. In order to maintain the proper scale the daily collages are 5" x 7". Sundays are 13" x 17" because the issue is so much larger with more material to work with, I find it much harder to integrate the images as seamlessly, maintain a focus or develop any type of narrative at this size. I have an approach and rhythm for the weekdays but for Sundays all bets are off which makes me work harder. Ultimately I'm learning more—not sure what yet.

The next challenge was developing an approach to large format printing. I stumbled upon a post from the Surface Design Association and learned that the most cost effective way to print large scale is to do so on a fleece blanket. Choosing to use blankets is consistent with my choice of medium and use of a domestic functional object. I discovered that printing on fleece gives the images more depth than printing on cotton. Unfortunately the most economical website to print from is Walmart. Because it is relatively inexpensive you don't always receive what you think you will. Choosing to use Walmart was a challenge in itself because I take issue with how the business operates, but at least the printing is done in North Carolina.

The final challenge is maintaining this daily practice while launching a huge time-limited project. Because my work is repetitive and labour intensive, sometimes I fall behind on the daily collages and have to catch up. So much is happening in the news today that I don't want to lose momentum and the thread of day-to-day events. I'm still working this through.

For New Urban Trend, Look Back 50 Years, NY Times 2/17/2014. Blanket hand-cut newspaper collage, fleece, digital print 2014, 60" x 80", Photo: om Fitzpatrick


The inspiration for your Protest Series came from the protest songs of the sixties. Tell us how this came about:

My first piece in the series, All We Were Saying, was my reaction to going to war in Iraq. This quilt was made prior to learning that we entered into the war under false pretense. I kept thinking about what if anything did we learn in Vietnam? Are we making some of the same mistakes?  How is history repeating itself? What did the 60's teach us?  In the 1960's protest music was a very important motivator and the lyrics rang true. I am greatly influenced by the artwork of that time and love music, so I wanted to merge it all together with quilts. The title of each piece in the series is a protest song, sometimes verbatim, sometimes a play on the title or lyric; for example All We Were Saying instead of Lennon's "all we are saying" (from Give Peace a Chance). As the series has evolved the number of topics has expanded to include immigration reform, income disparity and access to medical care. Also my work has changed as I began to incorporate 3D and installation.

The great fun of making quilts is finding commercial fabric that helps me to express an idea. The protest series really began to take off when I found what I call the "pig fabric" by designer Joe Mama. He designed a line depicting pigs in blue and white stripe suits with attaché cases that to me not only symbolize greed, but also reference back to the 60's and criticism of capitalism and the police. In the early days of eBay I spotted this yardage and got into a bidding war and won. From that point on the pigs appear and re-appear as needed. The pigs integrate perfectly with stars and stripes and maintain a unified look. I never tire of manipulating stars and stripes; the variety of commercial fabric available to choose from is huge.

From a Nest of Rhythm Teaching the Young to Fly, NY Times 1/29/2014. Blanket hand-cut newspaper collage, fleece, digital print 2014 60" x 80", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick


Give a few examples of specific pieces and explain how that particular song gave rise to the piece named for it:

In #3 Make Me Gotta Holler (a play on Inner City Blues {Make Me Wanna Holler} by Marvin Gaye) the pigs appear for the first time. It depicts my frustration with everything.  I use the magnet ribbon symbol Just Pretend It's All Okay to call attention to the popular craze of using the ribbon symbol for just about anything and at the same time paying homage to it's origin, a red ribbon fight against AIDS. As a social worker I worked with people with HIV/AIDS and there is still so much misinformation, even though medicine has advanced there still is no cure. I give a nod to George Harrison's Piggies from the White Album in which he pokes fun at capitalism by including forks and knives. Make Me Gotta Holler is the first time I use a traditional quilt pattern, Sunshine and Shadow, as the background to appliqué my design on.  

The economic collapse was the inspiration for #5 Damn Good Whacking and once again George Harrison's song Piggies, but this time the pigs are front and center, they lean to the left they lean to the right. They are quilted in a bull's eye design. This quilt came together while sitting in my studio I looked over at the bins of fabric and saw handcuff fabric; it was an ah ha moment! I discovered that the image scale was correct for the pigs, so some of the pigs could be in handcuffs. Are they "good" pigs or "bad" pigs? Is there a cure for what ails us as the border suggests? Do we just throw our money around? Who has the money?

#8 is Stand! (References that title by Sly and the Family Stone) and is my first use of découpage, which was a logical extension for me so I started to integrate new materials in my work. Fabric can be manipulated around any surface because it is forgiving and retains a tactile quality. I've learned that if the fabric is not overly saturated with glue, it will retain its sheen and, then in effect, I can "quilt" anything. My change in materials began with repurposing isolation masks used in hospitals while thinking about how medical care is delivered. Those thoughts led me to consider the shift in our country's political focus to more isolationist policies and I realized that I needed to show the masks on metaphorical representatives and introduced them as silent heads removed from people.

Each head is an all red Republican, or an all blue Democrat, red/blue Republican, blue/red Democrat or white independent, symbolizing the full spectrum of representation from conservative to liberal. The heads stand on stars and stripes. The number I created of each is the proportional analysis of republican to democrats that sat in the house and senate at that time. 

Stand is a reaction to my growing frustration with our political leaders, many of whom do not literally stand for what we elected them for, or who won't stand for what has become demonized as the "liberal" agenda. Sly's lyrics captured what I was thinking: "Stand, you've been sitting much too long, there is a permanent crease in your right and wrong." His lyrics are a reminder for all of us as. There is a pressing need to speak up about the ongoing shift in this country to fiscal accountability, with a position that purports all government is bad. The danger in this approach is too many are left behind or fall even further behind. 

Testimony of a Clear Eyed Witness, NY Times 1/24/2014. Blanket hand-cut newspaper collage, fleece, digital print 2014 60" x 80", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick


When did you first discover your creative talents? 

In high school I had a wonderful art teacher who encouraged me to explore calligraphy. I loved it and often created work using my best friends poetry. But I laid it aside when I went to college and studied psychology. Once I graduated I didn't feel prepared to enter into the field at such a young age. During college I helped a friend with a small theatrical production, and fell in love with theater. Once I graduated I started to work back stage in all types of areas. As a girl I learned to sew and embroider but my first patchwork was for the theater production Quilters at the Pittsburgh Public Theater.  I began to make quilts as gifts but thought of them as purely utilitarian. It wasn't until I made a quilt of the City of Pittsburgh for my father that I began to see the potential for quilt making as a way to address social issues I haven't looked back since.


Security Blanket? #1, Blanket hand-cut newspaper collage, fleece, digital print, 2014 60" x 48", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick


How has your art changed you as a person?

Art gives me the opportunity to explore contemporary issues in depth and give voice to my frustrations. In my art I have a platform to call attention to issues I hold dear. The challenge is for me to present them in an unbiased way in order to promote discussion and avoid being dogmatic. That said my choice of imagery depicts a bias as I look back to our history, but if I use it in a playful and strategic way perhaps it will make people think.  

Assuming a leadership role in a major community made public art project, and seeing it through to completion so successfully, made me realize anything is possible it you ask the right questions and work from the heart. Now I am thinking more concretely about ways to reach people beyond the white walls of a gallery and work collectively: art for the people.

Ensconced in Luxury as Terror Pays a Visit, NY Times 10/29/2013. Quilt hand-cut newspaper collage, fleece, commercial cotton fabric, canvas, digital print and machine quilted, 2014 47" x 33", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick

Pills That Aren't What They Seem, NY Times 11/3/2013. Quilt hand-cut newspaper collage, fleece, commercial cotton fabric, canvas, digital print and machine quilted, 2014 18" x 26", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick


What specific historic or contemporary artists have influenced your work?

I am a devotee of pop art so I will start with Andy Warhol (US) who happened to be born here in Pittsburgh. I admire his use of newspaper imagery. In particular the photos he chose and the impact of his work through the repetition of those images; it is so powerful.  I am inspired by how he used irony, the ways in which he played with and called attention to celebrity and his use of everyday objects. Henri Matisse (France) and the way he used pattern in his work along with his brilliant use of colour. Romare Bearden (US) and the way he built his collages particularly how he developed a narrative. Miriam Shapiro (Canada) for how she integrates textiles and the use of pattern in her work referencing the feminine.  Judy Chicago (US) because she takes risks in her work and is not afraid to change directions or mediums. I admire how she has used her art to call attention to women's history (as Shapiro has) through craft specifically in The Dinner Party which not only promoted discussion but controversy. Faith Ringgold (US) for how she tells a story and integrating painting, textiles, and quilting. But I have to say here in Pittsburgh I am so fortunate to know and be inspired by both Tina Williams Brewer and Shawn Quinlan.


Stand! #8, Protest Series. Installation 52 stands/heads, Styrofoam, dowel rods, wood, commercial fabric, Decoupage, machine piecing, paint, 2011 Size Variable, Photor: Tom Fitzpatrick


Tell us about the Knit the Bridge community-made fibre art installation on the Warhol Bridge that you were involved with.  

This is a timely question as we celebrate the first anniversary of this incredible project. I am so fortunate to live in a city with an active fiberarts guild. Every three years the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh mounts Fiberart International and the directors launch an outreach project with it. For Fiberart International 2013 lead artist Amanda Gross had the idea to yarnbomb the Warhol Bridge. Pittsburgh is all about bridges and steel and I am a native Pittsburgher. So from the very beginning I was on board. I took on the project as a thank you to my hometown, to bring people together and for the challenge. My role was co-director and I approached it using my theatrical training; to me it was a production on a massive scale. But it was the perfect synthesis of my work history because of the social practice component of the project. 

As the co-director I basically worked alongside Amanda to help to make Knit the Bridge a reality. Everything from working directly with the makers and core team (including my husband who created an amazing database to track the work), meeting with elected officials, working on crowd-sourced funding, facilitating communication with our bridge engineer and riggers, to maintenance of the work once it was installed on the bridge. The only part of the project that I did not do was hand knit or crochet a piece. I am embarrassed to say "not my thing". But I lost count of how many feet of machine knit material I made for the bridge tower design. It was simply an amazing experience. I felt like the project flowed through me and I was simply directed to do whatever needed to be done; if we encountered a problem the answer was found. Everyone we met wanted to know how to help. The core team of people we worked with was outstanding, but the incredible hours of volunteer time every single stitch represented on that bridge was extraordinary; it was a life-changing project.


Stand! #8, Protest Series, detail. Installation 52 stands/heads, Styrofoam, dowel rods, wood, commercial fabric, Decoupage, machine piecing, paint, 2011 Size Variable, Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick

Everybody look what's goin down… #11, Protest Series, Installation 50 Styrofoam heads commercial cotton fabric, Decoupage, appliqué, 2012 63" x 86", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick

You Better Think THINK Think about...#9, Protest Series. Installation commercial fabric masks, appliqued and embellished with beads, sequins and brads, 2012 56" x 72", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick


What project has given you the most satisfaction and why?

That's a difficult question to answer because there are a few projects that stand out as each represents a shift to another direction in my work. It's true what they say your last piece informs your next piece.  

But the work that gave me the most satisfaction and meant the most is Needlepoint, a quilt I made of the City of Pittsburgh for my father. It was my first non-traditional quilt made with fabric that references something about him and the city we grew up in. I didn't want him to see it in just a fire hall on display for one weekend (most quilt shows are weekend events) so I started looking around for other venues to show it in. I saw an advertisement for the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (AAP) Annual Exhibition to be held in the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University. The juror was Renee Stout an assemblage artist and I thought I had a shot at acceptance because the juror looks at the work in-person. Good friends of ours dropped it off for me, Renee Stout selected the quilt, and I won a prize. My father loved the quilt, was delighted to see it exhibited in the gallery, and it later hung in my childhood home. Until this time I never thought of quilts as art—only functional. I became a member of the AAP and I have been in numerous annuals and won more prizes since. It totally changed the way I thought about manipulating fabric, and materials.


Knit the Bridge, Community Fiberart Installation. 2013 Warhol Bridge Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick


What interests you about the World of Threads Festival?

The World of Threads Festival has many similarities to our Fiberart International in Pittsburgh. The opportunity to show my work alongside international artists is very exciting. Like your festival we are all volunteer (but it sounds like we have many more volunteers) and I hope to come home with new ideas to present to our group. I am so impressed with the size of the festival. I am excited to see new work and connect with others. Finally I am very interested to see what Canadian artists are up to.


Mighty Grip. Quilt Recycled jar openers, cotton commercial fabric, reflective hazard tape, Velcro, chains, oil cloth, vinyl binding, painted, appliquéd machine pieced, appliquéd and quilted 2012 89" x 89", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick

Mighty Grip, detail. Quilt Recycled jar openers, cotton commercial fabric, reflective hazard tape, Velcro, chains, oil cloth, vinyl binding, painted, appliquéd machine pieced, appliquéd and quilted, 2012 89" x 89", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick


You have been selected to exhibit in the World of Threads Festival 2014. What was your motivation for submitting your work?  

I am just beginning to show my newspaper collages in large format. I was delighted with the opportunity to submit a group of them. My hope is the impact of so many will be great and inspire discussion.

Unchained? Quilt Commercial fabrics, metal chain, grommets, machine appliquéd and quilted, 2006 73" x 56", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick

Unchained?, back. Quilt Commercial fabrics, metal chain, grommets, machine appliquéd and quilted, 2006 73" x 56", Photo: Tom Fitzpatrick


Is there a particular art related book/s that you refer to on a regular basis or from which you draw inspiration?  

I read constantly and am inspired by many biographies and memoirs. Keith Haring Journals made a huge impact on me and I refer to it repeatedly. Haring writes in great detail about his process of discovery and development of his work and artistic practice.

If I feel uninspired, a go-to is The Art of Peter Max by Charles A. Riley II. Max's use of colour never ceases to amaze me. I admire his drawing and in the early years he did collage.

Hanna Hoch from the Weimar period she was a Dada artist and one of the originators of photomontage, Cut with the Kitchen Knife by Maud Lavin.

Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas edited by Sam Durant is a source I refer to often to study the ways Douglas incorporated symbolism into a graphic narrative and for historical context.

Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman is a comprehensive encyclopedia of traditional quilt patterns, which I refer to when looking for recognizable traditional patterns for a background or for quilt inspiration.


Testimony of a Clear Eyed Witness, NY Times 1/24/2014, in progress. Photo: Penny Mateer

Studio shot, Photo: Penny Mateer

Studio shot, Photo: Penny Mateer

Studio shot, Photo: Penny Mateer

Studio shot, Photo: Penny Mateer

Studio shot, Photo: Penny Mateer

Studio shot, Photo: Penny Mateer


Do you have any upcoming shows?

I have two new newspaper collage quilts that will be on exhibit in the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh's show Construct opening November 21 - February 1, 2015 at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.


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